Malcolm Turnbull

ASIO identifies political candidates with links to China

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ASIO has identified 10 state and local political candidates linked to Chinese intelligence agencies, the Weekend Australian reports.

Australia's peak domestic intelligence agency won't say if it has uncovered links between 10 recent political candidates and Chinese intelligence agencies.

A scheme to insert people in the right places to influence Australian politics, while described as "patchy but deep," has caused concern for ASIO, the Weekend Australian reports.

One of the local and state government candidates identified won office, which he still holds today, according to the report.

The relationship between that person and Chinese agencies reportedly began before he won a seat.

And while most of those believed to have close ties with Chinese intelligence and the Communist Party were involved in council elections, ASIO holds concerns about people at both state and federal levels.

Fears centre around politics in Western Sydney and a Chinese diplomat who defected to Australia told The Weekend Australian there were overt attempts made by the Chinese government to influence opinions.

"In Australia, it seems there's no limitation at all, the Chinese do it publicly," Chen Yonglin said.

"It seems they are above the law in Australia. They are braver than their activity in the US."

It comes after Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull on Friday said he took reports that China's Communist Party had sought to interfere in Australia very seriously.

The comments sparked a complaint from China's foreign ministry.

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Turnbull claims China would have 'complete contempt' for Dastyari
Turnbull claims China would have 'complete contempt' for Dastyari

Links between Australian politics and China have been in the headlines recently after Bill Shorten was forced to cut embattled backbencher Sam Dastyari adrift following the senator's scandalous dealings with Chinese donors.

Senator Dastyari tipped off Chinese Communist Party-linked political donor Huang Xiangmo to the likelihood his phone was being tapped by Australian agencies.

Senator Dastyari is also in hot water after an audio recording surfaced of the NSW Labor powerbroker defending Beijing's aggressive land grab in the South China Sea.

Attorney-General George Brandis has asked the Senate's powerful privileges committee to investigate Senator Dastyari's conduct.

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